New York Rangers’ first-overall pick Alexis Lafrenière is not expected to join Canada for the 2021 World Junior Championship, TSN’s Darren Dreger first reported.
It’s also believed the New York Rangers won’t be releasing Alexis Lafrenniere to Team Canada for the World Junior Championship. The NHL club wants their 1st overall pick to continue to train locally and focus on his first NHL training camp. https://t.co/KL2SnGV0JW— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 3, 2020
The World Junior Championship, featuring the top under-20 prospects around the world, is set to begin on December 25th and run through January 5th. With the NHL not expected to resume activities before then, there was a possibility that the Rangers could send Lafrenière to represent Canada. The idea would have been to let him see competitive action for the first time since March.
The team has evidently decided that any benefits are not worth the risks. Lafrenière dominated the tournament last year and has nothing to prove at this level anymore. Letting him play would have subjected him to potential injury, not to mention legitimate concerns about him potentially contracting the virus inside the Edmonton bubble.
The Rangers do have prospects Braden Schneider, Matthew Robertson, and Dylan Garand currently attending Canada’s training camp and battling for spots on their roster. Karl Henriksson is a virtual lock to not only make Sweden’s roster but also play a major role for the Nordic team. Winger Brett Berard is attending Team USA’s camp but is likely on the outside looking in right now.
UPDATE: Hockey Canada officially announced that Lafrenière will not participate in the tournament. Scott Salmond, the senior vice president of national teams, made this statement:
“After ongoing discussions with the New York Rangers, Hockey Canada has been informed that Alexis Lafrenière will not be released to represent Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton. Although we are disappointed Alexis will not be able to join our team for World Juniors, we understand and respect the decision made by the Rangers.”